Our mind and body is linked by our nervous system and stress and anxiety can have a great effect on all our bodily functions.
During the body's stress response (fight or flight) parts of the body are stimulated and primed for action and other parts, such as digestion, the immune system or fertility are diverted away from because they are considered less of a priority in times of action. Blood is shifted away from the gut to your extremities. This alters the movement of food and waste products and can lead to symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, nausea or bloating.
Generalised anxiety can also contribute to hypersensitivity and hyper-reactivity of the gut via the sympathetic nervous system and can trigger irritable bowel symptoms. Worrying about flare ups of IBS can also re-trigger symptoms creating a vicious cycle. The pain and discomfort of IBS and the fact that it can be hard to predict can make it a very upsetting and distressing condition to live with.
The stress response process is designed to go back to normal once a threat has been dealt with. Unfortunately in todays busy world, our daily routines often demand excessive time and energy from us, and on top of this, we are constantly stimulated with a barrage of information and advertising. We continually carry around our phones or computers and watch hours of TV, news, movies or games. We are almost permanently ‘switched on and available', checking emails or text messages, paying bills, shopping or scrolling on social media at all times of the day.
Our stressful and busy lives, mean our bodies are living in a permanent state of low-level anxiety and we are not giving them the chance to properly relax and recuperate effectively. When stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are repeatedly triggered, it can have a negative impact both on our physical and mental health. Sadly the modern world and all of its conveniences has led much of the population towards the combination of unhealthy food choices, less physical exercise and higher stress levels and digestive disorders are just one of the common side effects.
Hypnotherapy is an effective form of stress relief and can act as a circuit breaker for symptoms. With the use of visualisation and by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system ( the rest and digest phase) it can help to reduce inflammation, calm hypersensitivity, relax and soothe the gut and break the anxiety loop by giving the body a well needed break from nervous stimulation.
During this restful and recuperative state, the subconscious mind is gently filled with positive suggestions to calm the nervous response, soothe the whole digestive system and end the negative cycle of symptoms.
Hypnotherapy is recognised and recommended as an effective and safe treatment for IBS by NHS NICE guidelines.